HOUSTON – Chartiers-Houston’s basketball teams hosted a WPIAL Class AA playoff preliminary round girl-boy doubleheader Saturday, and the Bucs split the games as the girls downed Frazier in the opener while the boys fell to California.
Defense was the name of the game in the girls contest as Chartiers-Houston held Frazier to five baskets in a 27-18 win.
In the boys contest, California’s Nate O’Savage scored 11 of his game-high 27 points in the decisive fourth quarter to lead the Trojans to a 55-48 win.
C-H girls coach Laura Montecalvo was impressed with Frazier’s defense.
“Frazier’s defense really stifled us, and we had a lot of young kids getting their first playoff experience,” she said.
“I give credit to Frazier, but it was also some nerves on our part. Overall, we persevered and kept playing defense.”
CH (10-6) used its height and length on the defensive end to cause issues for Frazier (5-14), which had 19 turnovers while the Bucs had 16.
“We wanted to pressure the guards and keep the ball out of the post,” Montecalvo said.
Frazier played without four-year starter Kaelyn Shaporka and coach Winston Shaulis said his team missed her.
“She was missed on the court with her experience and leadership, but the girls fought all game long,” he said. “I thought we started off, and played the majority of the game, with a great defensive effort.”
Baskets came at a premium early with neither team making one in the first quarter.
Frazier led 3-1 after the first quarter and it wasn’t until C-H’s Dominique Mortimer hit a three-pointer on the first possession of the second quarter that either team made a basket.
Down 7-3 early in the second, Frazier went on a 7-0 run to take a 10-7 lead with 4:17 to go in the half. Molly Youch’s basket with 5:05 to play in the first half would be Frazier’s last field goal until Eliza Newcomer hit one with 1:39 to play in the game.
The drought lasted 19 minutes and 16 seconds.
C-H closed the first half on a 7-0 run to take a 14-10 lead and it held an 18-12 advantage entering the fourth.
Mortimer led C-H with eight points. Delaney Warnick paced Frazier with seven points.
C-H moves on to face third-seeded Winchester Thurston Tuesday. It will be played at Chartiers-Houston.
“It is going to be a tall order as they are extremely athletic and have balanced scoring,” Montecalvo said. “They have great experience, and we have to play great defense and take care of the basketball.”
O’Savage’s big fourth quarter carried the Trojans to the victory.
“He had a big game,” said California coach Aaron Balla. “We want him attacking the hoop and getting to the free-throw line.
“We also attacked on defense as we went back to our man-to-man defense.”
There were 47 fouls called in the game with three Bucs fouling out and two Trojans.
C-H hurt its chances of victory by making only 16 of 28 free throws and coach Rich Tranquill said that was a key to the outcome.
“If I had to point to one thing, maybe foul shooting for us as we were just a touch over 50 percent,” he said. “We did a great job getting to the line, and so far this year we had been pretty good.
“I thought we attacked the rim and I thought we did a good job of attacking offensively.”
California made 18 of 29 free throws, and after C-H’s Alijah Vaden made a shot to trim California’s lead to 49-45 with 1:01 to go, the Trojans made six of eight down the stretch.
Most of the first half was evenly played but a California run late in the second quarter opened up a lead for the Trojans.
With the score tied 13-13, the Trojans went on a 10-2 spurt to close the half for a 23-15 lead.
Prior to the California run, neither team led by more than three points.
California’s season began with expectations of winning Class 2A Section 4, but the Trojans’ season was halted twice.
Balla said the win is even better because of the chaos his team has faced.
“We had big energy early, we came out with much more positivity and addressed some things the last two practices,” he said. “We can still make a run.
“After everything this season, they deserve this. This is the turning point with trust and senior leadership.”
Austin Arnold (18 points) and Vaden (13) paced the Bucs’ scoring.
“They had great years and are great kids,” Tranquill said. “We are really going to miss them as they were key pieces to the puzzle and we will have to work hard to replace them. I am really proud of the team and they have come a long way.”
The Trojans and their six seniors head to top-seeded OLSH for a first-round game Wednesday (6 p.m.).
“I am excited about playing the best and the kids are too,” Balla said. When you get to match up against the best, you get to see where you stand as a team.”